A HEARTBROKEN mum whose only child died days after open heart surgery said her daughter is her “angel now” – as pals honour her memory by doing random acts of kindness.
Bubbly nine-year-old Béibhinn O’Connor, who had a rare congenital heart defect, survived major surgery but passed away just days later on September 16 after a cardiac arrest during a routine post-operation procedure.
Heartbroken parents Irene and Eoin, who lost their beloved only child, revealed their delight as Beibhinn’s friends at Holy Well National School in Carrigaline, Co Cork, completed the Heart Angel Challenge this week.
Irene told how she is finding solace in promoting acts of kindness following the death of her daughter.
Business at her company, which brings Erasmus students to Ireland, screeched to a halt amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
And after being used to being on hand for Beibhinn’s medical needs, but was plunged into complete darkness when she died.
ACTS OF KINDNESS
She said: “I went from the busiest person I know because Béibhinn had a lot of medicine and care and running my company to nothing.
“I was going crazy after she died and then it came to me. I was at her grave and I said to Eoin that ‘ there must be something we can do. She can’t be dead.’
“Then we just came up with the idea of random acts of kindness because she was so incredibly kind. She loved animals and kids. She would be going mad if anyone was upset. She was always joking around.”
Now Irene and Eoin are asking school principals to have a no homework day, but instead set kids the task of completing a random act of kindness, as part of their efforts to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation, which has been badly impacted by a decrease in fundraising during the Covid-19 crisis.
NO HOMEWORK DAY PLAN
Mum Irene told how Béibhinn had a smile that lit up a room – but she wasn’t a fan of homework.
She said: “Béibhinn was all about having the craic and the laugh. She loved the Toy Show and was obsessed with Ryan Tubridy.
“The one thing she couldn’t cope with was homework so she would love this idea of children all over the country getting off homework for a day.
“Ideally we would love if every school in Ireland took on a challenge. Instead of giving the kids homework some day next week that their homework would be to do a random act of kindness.
She explained: “It can be things like helping your parents around the house. I would like Facebook to light up with these random acts of kindness. I want children to think about being kind.
“The idea is they do something kind and then they come in and talk about what they did.
“That idea is planted in the other 30 kids in their class. Hopefully that will instil kindness in them.”
MAKE A WISH PLEA
Irene hopes that every child who takes part in the challenge might donate a small amount to the Make a Wish Foundation.
She said: “In Béibhinn’s school there are 958 students. That will pay for a wish for a sick child. Wishes generally cost about €2,000.
“This year is very difficult for every charity. But Wish kids can’t wait. It is not something they can do. They have a big backlog of wishes they need to grant.
“How incredible it would be if every school took part? That is every school in Ireland granting a wish to a Make a Wish foundation child. There are kids at the moment who could die without their wish being granted.”
A massive €12,500 has already been raised on her page theheartangel.com and people are also donating directly to the Make a Wish Foundation.
Irene added: “Béibhinn is our angel now and she is watching over us. Hopefully she will spread her kindness.”
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Béibhinn spent her fourth birthday at Disneyland Paris where she met all her favourite characters, and was thrilled to have her photo shared by Make a Wish to help them raise funds to help other children in her situation.
The Foundation helps to fulfil the wishes of children with critical illnesses between the ages of two-and-a-half and 18-years-old.